Well I don’t know about you, but the holiday season seems to have arrived at warp speed again this year. It doesn’t help that retail and grocery stores had the winter decorations up on Halloween day. Some also say that having a late Thanksgiving has an affect, since December will arrive just a few days from now!

courtesy Serge Bertasius Photography/freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy Serge Bertasius Photography/freedigitalphotos.net

While the holiday season is a time to enjoy gatherings of family, friends, food, and beverage, you certainly don’t want to neglect your health at this festive time of year. If you are following the DASH Diet, working on weight loss, have diabetes or other health issues that are strongly tied to dietary management, you can stick with it over the next month, and arrive healthy in January.

The reality is – there are lots of high calorie foods around at work and at home during the month of December – so starting a routine of simple and light meals now helps. Eating light during the week in preparation for special weekend gatherings can keep calories under control and help with weight control, even if you splurge a bit on the weekend. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, starting today:

  • Breakfast. Start every day off with a healthy, high fiber breakfast. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with a few options during the work week. Consider a hearty 1-cup serving of cooked oatmeal with low fat milk; an English Muffin with one egg; 8 ounces of plain yogurt topped with 1/4 cup nutty granola and sliced bananas. Or try a high protein smoothie using peanut butter powder and bananas.
  • Lunchtime.  A salad or half-sanwich with vegetable soup; a half sandwich with an apple and handful of nuts; a large green salad topped with low fat cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, and chopped veggies; a bowl of bean chili
  • Dinner. Cook at home more during the week to save calories. Focus your meals on protein and vegetables and skip the starches (starches are fine, but occasionally skipping the rice, potato or pasta dish and adding more low calorie vegetables is a good low-cal plan to balance our special occasions).
  • Skip Snacks. There are benefits to healthy snacking, but for many middle-aged folks, and women, the calories in snacks aren’t usually necessary unless you are in a situation where you have to skip a meal, or are highly active. Skip snacking during the week to allow for the extras  you may choose at a holiday party.
  • Get some fresh air daily! This is good for the mind and body. Even a short walk can be enough to keep your metabolism stoked.

You can do it. Focus on a few simple goals (smaller, lighter meals, with limited snacking) and you can balance out your intake, and enjoy every holiday party and day of the season!